Friday, June 30, 2006

Gee, and we're getting double dose of Hungry Ghosts coming up

May was not such a good month for most Malaysians - what with the rise in electricity tariffs and further tightening of their already suffocating belts.

And June isn't any better with all sorts of dirt being flung around. The s***ty mess left behind can still be smelled for miles around, in fact, polluting our neighbouring country's media so much that they had to add extra sheets to accommodate the hungry appetite for more juicy entertaining stuff churned out by our very own cast of clowns and sidekicks.

Pressures have been steadily building up, with the occasional letting off some steam by third class acts from certain one-eyed and Bung-ling MPs. But of course, we are not fooled. We are still transfixed by the fools around us, missing or is it trying to pull wool over our eyes so that we can't tell the trees from the forest?

Today's the last day of June.

But, bet you that it's not going to get any better in July. The show is going to get steamier and scarier ...

And why, you ask?


we will be getting a double dose of the dreaded Chinese Hungry Ghosts Festival (the 7th lunar month in the Chinese calendar) this year. The Chinese calendar's seventh month starts on 25th July.

According to Chinese folklore, for one long lunar month during the Hungry Ghosts Festival, ghosts are said to roam the earth. If you pay careful attention, you will notice small roadside fires, where certain serious adherents and nominal believers of Taoism burn paper money, joss-sticks and other offerings to appease the restless spirits.

According to this website, the ghostly aspect of the seventh month emerged from the Taoist concept of hell.

Imprisoned in its lowest reaches, the ghosts may leave hell only with special permission of its king. This privilege would be granted only if the ghost receives no offerings to provide for its welfare, and therefore must return to the living to take what it can. The numbers permitted to leave are restricted.

Buddhism incorporated the Taoist hell into the tradition of the seventh month, known as U-lan-p’en, derived from the Sanskrit uvulambana, signifying the emptying out of hell, as one empties a bowl by turning it upside down.

The Taoist version favored the term P'u-tu, signifying a crossing over, or a general amnesty for the souls of the dead in hell.

This amnesty commences on the first day and the ghosts look for whatever food they may find. On the 15th day, the feeding of the souls is attended to and each family offers a banquet for the ghosts. By the 30th day the ghosts must return to hell.

But as it would be dangerous to allow a beggar into one's home, the same holds true for ghosts. So offerings are made on tables outside the home. Offerings usually consist of whole cooked fowl and large pieces of meat and delicacies. Other attractive items such as beer, cigarettes and washing implements are left out for the homeless ghosts to use.

And in this article from Tourism Penang, PHOR THOR: The Hungry Ghosts it was mentioned that during the “Hungry Ghost Month” children and young toddlers are kept inside, especially at night, for fear of them being led away by the “Hungry Ghosts”.

Having a wedding or moving house is considered bad luck and going to the beach and swimming is discouraged because many tragedies have taken place in the sea, and evil ghosts may be eager to take more lives! The 30th day of the seventh moon is the last day of the festival. At midnight, the ghosts return to Hell and the gates are shut after them. Paper offerings and other goods are burnt in a giant bonfire as a final gift.

So, just a little reminder here folks.

The Hungry Ghosts month is going to run from 25th July to 23rd August 2006 and because this year is a double-7 year in the Chinese lunar calendar, the Festival will be extended until 21 September 2006!

Don't say you have not been warned ...


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cookies to knock you cold!

I've not cranked up the oven for quite some time and seeing the kids demolished a whole 400gm bag of Famous Amos Choc Chip cookies in one sitting got me fired up.

Time to don the apron and whip up a batch of home-made cookies! Cookies are also great comfort food, if you know what I mean. :)

I've never baked chocolate chip cookies before, to be honest. I've had great success with my oat and cornflakes cookies that I spent two whole days fulfilling repeat orders from my family and relatives. Yeah - that was the last time I baked cookies because I was thoroughly drained at the end of that marathon session. It's a lot of hard work to make a whole bunch of people happy.

So, I searched the Internet and came across a recipe which looks easy enough. It looked workable too.

Mixing the dough was a breeze!

Divide the dough into small pieces, nicely spaced out on baking paper. Put them in a pre-heated oven.

Presto! Freshly baked Anak Merdeka chocolate chip cookies.

The aroma that wafted through the house was deliciously wonderful. That's what I loved most about baking. Reminds me to start cranking up the bread-machine again. I love the smell of freshly baked bread too.

Don't they look good? Do they taste as good as they looked?

Errmmm ...

J said they tasted delicious, better than Famous Amos because I reduced the sugar content and put in more chips so that they are not too sickly sweet.

"But they are a bit hard ..."

"But it's okay. Once you crack it, it's actually not that hard..."

Hehehe ... I've got a diplomatic kid.

I tried one. Truth is, those cookies can knock your dentures off! I can hear J making "crunch, crunch, crunch" sounds as she chews into them. But she really did like them because she had one after another and another ... until I had to stop her. Don't want her to get constipated lah!

Must be the baking powder. I realised too late that it expired in 2005. Can't be the cook, right?


Not sweating over the stress

This is the last two paragraphs taken from an article published by Newsweek International (July 3-10, 2006 issue)

By Joe Cochrane and Lorien Holland

For starters, UMNO counts the Malay business owners to whom it grants sweetheart contracts as its bedrock supporters. That means political patronage is entrenched and calls for greater support for Malays have strong voter appeal. Even today, some UMNO politicians argue that new economic sectors such as biotechnology should be declared Malay only. Others point out that Malays remain the country's poorest ethnic group. "The fear is that when we declare ourselves a developed country by 2020, the Malays will not be part of that," says Khairy Jamaluddin, a senior member of UMNO's youth wing and the prime minister's son-in-law. "We see [the NEP] as a last chance to get there."

That may be wishful thinking. Chinese and Indian professionals have been emigrating to Singapore, Australia and elsewhere to escape discrimination or dead-end careers. Government officials say they're concerned about losing talent, but that maintaining an economic advantage for Malays is more important. "It's policies like NEP that have been able to preserve the peace," says Khairy. Or, some would say, disturb it.

Tell you what I think.

You can keep the flawed NEP until 2040 and even then, the Malays will still be struggling to keep up with the developed status of Malaysia, IF Malaysia has truly reached the developed state status by then, in the REAL sense of the word, not some self-proclaimed kind of announcement ala Selangor Maju.

If that's what you think is best for the Malays, so be it.

In the meantime, the non-Malay professionals are not going to sweat over such stuff anymore - because they will be busy carrying on with their lives elsewhere, where they are appreciated and where the goalposts are guaranteed to stay put in one place.

We've lived with all kinds of stress in this country, we've survived and somehow adapted to the kind of dirty rules in this unfair game. Hey - no sweat! All the stress just makes us tougher and better prepared for the real jungle out there. We'll always survive by remaining fit and running with the pack. And don't worry. We'll be fine so long as we stay united.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dr M's Sting (Ep. 12 - A Proxy Fight)


What's this from Nazri Aziz?

“Sekarang duduk dalam parti pun macam pembangkang, lebih baik jadi jantan, keluar dan bangkang kita terus dan senang saya nak hentam. Sekarang kalau nak lawan dia, saya teragak-agak kerana dia bekas presiden kita (Umno),” katanya pada sidang akhbar di lobi Parlimen. (Berita Harian Online, 27 June 2006.)

This must be the dumbest thing I've read so far in the saga of Dr M-Pak Lah.

Speaks a whole lot about what's to come, without a single word from the man himself.

Not very elegant.

Downright "kasar" and "tidak beradab".

You wouldn't say such things to your grandfather of 81, would you? No matter how "tidak nyanyuk" he's become.

Be lah gentleman sikit! There are many ways to skin a cat, if that's your ultimate intention.



Monday, June 26, 2006

Dr M's Sting (Ep. 11 - Don't be a chicken!)

That dialogue which lasted more than 2 hours at the Kelab Century Paradise organised by Malaysia-Today was all Dr M needed to renew his attack on the current administration.

I must say, at more than 80 years old, Dr M has not lost any of his caustic wit which had his 600-odd listeners standing in rapt attention, at times drowning the man in thunderous roar of approval. If you don't believe me, you can download the video at Malaysia-Today's website and hear for yourself. He was truly in his element.

Not surprisingly, none of the mainstream media wanted to have anything to do with it. It was THAT embarrassing.

But, you can read a report filed in The Straits Times here, headlined "Mahathir strikes again." In another article filed by the same reporter, she claimed that "Opposition now instant fans of former prime minister" and another one with the title "Swipe at Premier's advisers."

I think from the extensive coverage given by the Singapore's Straits Times, they were equally concerned about Dr M's very public criticisms especially when the ex-PM accused the tiny island state of being selfish and that "with Singapore, you cannot negotiate or smile."

I kind of got the impression that Dr M just could not stomach the fact that under Pak Lah's administration, the relationship between Malaysia and Singapore has warmed somewhat and that both sides have taken a softer & more diplomatic approach in negotating contentious issues involving the sovereignty of both countries.

It's not much different with Australia either. And probably with a whole bunch of Dr M's self-proclaimed enemies.

He sure is spoiling for a fight. What else did you expect him to do? He just could not stand it anymore.

And Kalimullah Hassan, in his last Sunday Column article for the NST "Sometimes you've got to fight when you're a man" is not much better. It appears to the reader that he's egging Pak Lah to take on Dr M and give him what he wants - a black eye, perhaps?

But wait a minute - what's the point of it?

What's the whole point of just answering one man's questions and justifying your administration to ONE man?

What about US? Why not try to shake off that lethargy and get moving now? Try to do one thing at a time - among some IMPORTANT things which all of us have been holding our breathe for you to take action.

Like, for a start, implement the IPCMC first. This should get the whole country (and quite a few opposition leaders) rallying behind you with a thunderous roaring support to drown out one man's rant.

Then, before the euphoria has died down, take the bull by the horns and reshuffle that montrous size cabinet and get rid of some loud-mouthed deadwoods as well as some notoriously unrepentant recalcitrants.

Clap, clap, clap. Another round of applause and "Pak Lah BOLEH!".

And later, look at what can be done to weed out incompetent and corrupt officers who have been getting away with running local government offices like their very own mini-empires.

And you'll have the voters eating out of your hands in the next General Election.

You see, this is what most people on the ground want to see you do.

Because they elected you to make their lives a whole lot better than it was in the previous administration. Those very people who slog for a living and who didn't benefit from APs and government contracts and handouts which made a select and privileged few bumiputras into super rich and famous "entrepreneurs".

The bottom line is, and this is sad - nothing much has changed for the ordinary folks - most would even claim that things have gotten worse in the past 2 and a half years. They have gotten poorer because their real income has shrunk with higher costs of living.

And some people continue to use public funds for the sole pleasurable benefit of a select few.

Can you blame them for getting restless and angry?


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Check this out, Selayang councillors!

This is so pai-seh lah!

Our neighbour down south is one up on us - they have the "Singapore-based World Toilet Organisation, which ... has members from 40 countries, and organises the World Toilet Summit which will be held this year in Moscow in September."

The World Toilet College (WTC), an educational-arm of the World Toilet Organisation have engaged a team of Japanese professional toilet cleaners to conduct a four-day seminar aimed to pass along advanced scrubbing and other skills to boost productivity and improve morale of Singaporean toilet cleaners.

Mr Katsumata and his two Japanese assistants gave a class of 51 local cleaners tips on dealing with choked toilet bowls and the curriculum includes a history of toilets, and how to dismantle urinals. They even learn to use hand mirrors to check for urine crystals which lead to bad smells.

Katsumata, who has organised similar seminars in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia, urged toilet cleaners to uphold Singapore's squeaky-clean reputation.

"We are a rich country and we have everything. Our image is that of a clean and green city. We can't have dirty toilets," WTC founder Jack Sim said.

The pilot course was funded by Singapore's trade union and the skills-development agency. Sim hopes that with funding, the course will be converted into a 64-hour training programme by October.

"Once we professionalise the job of the toilet cleaners, they will take pride in their job and their salaries will increase, so everybody wins: the cleaner, the user and the owner of the building," Sim said.

The course has left Santhi Cheti, a toilet cleaner for the past decade, feeling flush with success.

"Now I take home 750 dollars but (after the course) I can take home 900-950 dollars because now I know how to do some repairing," Cheti said of her monthly salary.

"I'm very happy because I learnt a lot."


Did anyone notice any changes in the state of our public toilets after the Selayang Councillor's toilet-inspection trip to South Africa?

And what happened to the first National Public Toilet Design Competition?

Did it also got flushed down the drain after the prize-giving ceremony?

Maybe Malaysia should apply for membership to this World Toilet Organisation. Perhaps then, we could save lots of precious public funds by tapping on their expertise in solving our long-standing problems with public toilets.

And it's much much cheaper to send an entourage to Singapore than South Africa, isn't it?


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dr M's Sting (Ep. 10 - Lessons about legacies)

The SUN columnist Liew Chin Tong has some advice for Dr M on Lessons about Legacies in an article published today.

Since I enjoyed reading it, I decided to reproduce the whole thing here for the benefit of those who missed out.


Lessons about legacies
by Liew Chin Tong

They say history always repeats itself.

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad complained that the media censored his statement.

Any form of censorship is wrong and I defend Mahathir's right to speak his mind. But let's also be reminded that when The Star resurfaced after being suspended in the Operasi Lalang in 1987, the nation's founder Tunku Abdul Rahman's well-liked column in the paper disappeared.

Here is another example of history laughing at humankind: Mahathir is now suffering from what Tunku used to complain - the dismantling of one's monuments and legacies.

The irony is that Mahathir destroyed more monuments of the Tunku than Pak Lah has of Mahathir.

"What will remain of me after I am dead and gone?" With the recent uproar, you may think this was posed by Mahathir, but it was uttered by Tunku.

Major wars were fought between the Tunku and Mahathir in the thirty-odd years when their public lives coincided. Mahathir refused to take part in the 1959 general election due to squabbles between the two on, among others, the choice of national anthem and the continued stationing of British troops in Malaya.

Then, in 1969, Mahathir blamed the Tunku for the May 13 incident and called for his resignation. For that, Mahathir was sacked from Umno and an order to arrest him was issued, but was revoked by Tun Razak at the last minute.

The 1980s, especially after the Umno crisis in 1987, saw the Tunku fighting Mahathir's dominance with the opposition.

Their political views and backgrounds - a prince and a commoner - may have been worlds apart but their penchant for monument building seems alike. So were their agonies when successors undermined their legacies. Both see political power as ultimately about building things that they cherish.

Mahathir said, "I saw Kuala Lumpur when I first came here, and thought it was a very bleak town. I said, 'why don't you plant trees?' I kept on saying this but it never happened ... until you have the authority to say, 'Plant!' "

Of course, he did not only plant but built.

As a member of the old Legislative Council prior to 1955, Tunku Abdul Rahman suggested that a football stadium to be built for Malaya Cup matches. He was derided, which he responded by telling the chamber, "One day I will build it. You may laugh at me now."

The Tunku wrote in Political Awakening, "Sure enough as soon as I became Chief Minister, I looked around for a suitable ground and I found one on a hill which was used as a military depot, right in the centre of the town."

So he built Merdeka Stadium there. And, make no mistake, Tunku actually said he built it, although it was publicly funded.

Set in the background of Mahathir's efforts to discard any remnants of British rule, the Umno Youth - then led by Anwar Ibrahim - demanded the British government to return Carcosa in 1984.

The Tunku was hurt. "The gift of Carcosa to the British has put me in a bad light already, and I don't want to be condemned for the rest of my life as a traitor. At one time I had been accused of selling this country to the Chinese, now Carcosa to the British, so what will remain of me after I am dead and gone, only Allah knows. I have a feeling that there will only be curses and plenty of them."

But Carcosa was not the only one. At the Tunku's centenary birthday celebration in February 2003, the then deputy prime minister Abdullah Badawi praised Tunku Abdul Rahman for his farsightedness in choosing Kuala Lumpur as the nation's capital.

Interestingly, Abdullah listed eight monuments built by the Tunku while he was in office, namely the Merdeka Stadium, National Stadium, Subang Airport, National Mosque, National Monument, Parliament House, National Museum and University of Malaya.

Only the last three were left untouched.

Even then, there are plans to build a series of new museums in Putrajaya. In addition, the symbolism of Parliament House as the epicentre of politics has diminished with the relocation of the seat of federal government to Putrajaya.

Had it not been the financial crisis that derailed a redevelopment plan, Merdeka Stadium and the National Stadium would have already been demolished. The government and UEM Berhad signed an agreement in 1994 to barter the two stadiums for the construction of Bukit Jalil sports complex by the company, to the chagrin of Tunku Sofiah Jewa, Tunku's nephew.

Amongst all his monuments, according to Tunku Sofiah, the Tunku liked the stadium most because that was where his proudest moment in life - declaration of independence - took place. And, Malaysia's nationhood was born there.

Historical sites of such importance should never be subject to the bulldozer.

Abdullah Badawi announced the permanent preservation of the two stadiums at the centenary birthday.

The current state of Tunku's monuments

Subang airport was constructed at a cost of RM52 million in 1965. Needless to say, it was a mega project of its time. Architect Ahmad Nizam Radzi calls it "the most beautiful airport in this part of the world."

What remains of the Tunku? Not much. And, Mahathir may face the same fate too.

Liew Chin Tong is a graduate student in a local university.


More skeletons in the closet being exposed to the full glare of daylight. I wonder when Mt M is going to erupt again, going by the systematic unravelling of some truths and half-truths calculated at casting a long dark shadow on his legacy.

So much washing of dirty linen in public. Can we expect something clean and fresh to come out of it in the end?


It ain't Chinese New Year but here's something sweet to seal your mouth!

All this sugar talk is making a lot of people feeling overly excited for the past few weeks. You can see it spilled out in almost every major local newspaper - all the gungho show of support for one man and all the brickbats thrown at another.

And the shelves in Jusco is still EMPTY - poor makciks. How are they going to get through their day without the kuih-muih manis for minum petang? But seems like some public servants are still having a good time conducting their meetings with a table laden with sweet kuih and sweeter still tea & coffee! Different strokes for different folks, eh?

Kak Ju was suddenly seized with a sweet craving this afternoon. So, rummaging through the fridge, I found ONE large cake of Niangao (Chinese New Year cake) still in very good shape and condition. No need sugar to make this sweet dessert!

All you need to do is slice up the Niangao, slice up some sweet potatoes (any type will do, and I'm using the purple ones since that's the only available type in my kitchen but I think the orange potatoes would probably be better), whip up some wheat flour batter with a pinch of salt and heat up a frying pan of oil. And voila! A plateful of delicious, smacking sweet niangao fritters!

Sliced sweet potatoes on the left and sliced niangao on the right.

Sandwich niangao with 2 slices of the sweet potato.

Mix wheat flour with enough water and a pinch of salt to form a smooth batter. Coat the niangao fully in batter.

Fry them in a pan of hot oil until crispy.

Drain the niangao and serve.


Kak Ju
is all smiles are she sits down for afternoon tea with her teh manis.

Hmmm ... maybe, I ought to serve some to the demi-Gods who make so much decisions that affect our lives. Perhaps, it will remind them to deliver some sweet deals to us, to make up for so much of the bitter stuff we have been forced to swallow lately.

Any fat chance that it'll work?


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What now, Pak Lah?

I am re-producing an article written by Oon Yeoh published in for the benefit of readers following the Dr M-Pak Lah saga.


Wednesday, 21 June 2006


What PM Abdullah can do to silence Dr M and his critics

Following former Premier Mahathir Mohamad's criticisms against his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the mainstream media did its job and ran news reports of overwhelming support for the Prime Minister.

An avalanche of critical commentary pieces against Dr Mahathir followed suit. It was interesting to see senior editors, who used to hail Dr Mahathir as a visionary leader, now calling his mega-projects wasteful.

Columnists who used to praise and encourage Dr Mahathir's frank and outspoken manner now say he should tone down his opinions and retire gracefully. Reading such articles reminded me of the saying: "Those who live by the sword, die by the sword."

Using the state-controlled media to demonise the opposition is a tactic perfected by Dr Mahathir while he was in power. Now, he's getting a taste of his own medicine.

But far from backing off, the support for Prime Minister Abdullah by government leaders and the media has only spurred Dr Mahathir to become even more combative.

In the coming months, you will see Dr Mahathir up the ante. As a one-man shadow cabinet, Dr Mahathir is more effective in demanding accountability from the government than all the opposition parties combined.

The fact that he has managed to single-handedly force the government to respond to his questions regarding various issues will only embolden him to pose tougher questions in the future.

Although he often complains about the press ignoring him, the reality is that whenever Dr Mahathir holds his no-holds-barred press conferences, his comments will be reported.

In addition, he can — and has been using — other avenues including the Internet. He recently gave an interview to the online news site Malaysiakini, which he used to demonise when he was in power.

During the Perdana Peace Forum, he invited bloggers to cover the event. He has also had his open letter to the government posted on a pro-United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) website.

Another tactic was to get his former press secretary Matthias Chang to make statements that were too inflammatory for even Dr Mahathir to utter — such as Mr Chang's recent accusation that Mr Abdullah's son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin, and The New Straits Times deputy chairman Kalimullah Hassan, exert inappropriate influence over government policies.

So what is Dr Mahathir up to? One theory is that he wants to hasten Mr Abdullah's departure from the political scene and ensure that he is a one-term prime minister.

Although Dr Mahathir has declared that he has neither the intention nor the power to do this, political observers will remember how Dr Mahathir, as a young politician, contributed to Malaysia's first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman's downfall after the deadly May 13, 1969, riots.

Unhappy with the Tunku's liberal policies, Dr Mahathir wrote a scathing open letter urging that he resign from office. The Tunku responded by sacking Dr Mahathir from Umno, but the open letter, which was disseminated widely within Umno, led to student demonstrations and marked the beginning of the end for the Tunku, who resigned a year later.

As political analyst Liew Chin Tong observed, while the critical remarks made to the press and posted on the Internet will not bring down a prime minister, Dr Mahathir's open attack on Mr Abdullah has crossed a psychological barrier, especially when Dr Mahathir's censure comes at a time when Pak Lah's (Mr Abdullah's nickname) popularity is on the wane.

The high hopes the people placed on Mr Abdullah, which propelled him to a massive landslide victory in the 2004 general election, are no longer there due to his flip-flops on police reforms, anti-corruption and other policy matters. The increases in petrol and electricity prices have also made the public unhappy.

The fact that the premier's son-in-law has risen incredibly fast in the political and corporate world has also meant Mr Abdullah is no longer immune to accusations of nepotism and cronyism.

So, what can Mr Abdullah do?

There is one way he can effectively neutralise Dr Mahathir's criticism, and it doesn't require any spin by his media operatives. It doesn't even require him to respond to Dr Mahathir's barbed comments.

All he has to do is fulfill the promises he made during his campaigns for the general election. If he fulfills his reform agenda, nothing Dr Mahathir says will matter, for Mr Abdullah will have the support of the people.

Oon Yeoh is a writer and commentator based in Kuala Lumpur.


Note: The bold text were added by me to emphasize my agreement with Mr Yeoh on the points raised in his observation of Pak Lah's dicey political position vis-a-vis his first term in office as the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

As I've said so in an earlier post,
this is not about answering one man's questions.

This is all about regaining the trust and confidence of disillusioned and dejected Malaysians.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The hairy scary rules of Chinese schools

Spotted on page 8 of The SUN today:-

DONG ZONG (United Chinese School Committees Association) president Yap Sin Tien said the education policy is not totally to blame for the weakening of Chinese primary school committees.

Some school committees have given up some of their rights and allowed themselves to be marginalised either because they are not properly organised or due to the bias of the people running the show, the Chinese press reported.

Speaking at the launch of the Chinese school committee awareness campaign in Kajang, Yap said school committees have a vital role to play as the community has entrusted them with the task of ensuring Chinese schools will keep abreast of the times to be relevant.


The recent tussle between Dong Jiao Zong and the Federation of Chinese School Headmasters made headlines in the local papers and caused much embarrassment as well as deep concern among the Chinese community at large.

Thus, when I saw the above newsbite, I was instantly reminded of the myriad of problems affecting the running of these schools. It has always been and probably will continue to be, an uphill battle all the way for the Chinese community in Malaysia to hold on to their right to educate their kids in Chinese vernacular schools.

On top of that, they had to find ways and means to sustain such schools and ensure their survival based on their ability to continue to maintain the kind of high enrolment rate which we have been seeing in recent years, not just from the Chinese community but increasingly from other communities as well.

But I guess a lot of parents knew it in their hearts that the surge in popularity of Chinese schools is actually a manifestation of the rejection of national schools for various reasons. I would go so far as to say that it is not so much that Chinese vernacular education in Malaysia is superior to other forms of education, just that they are winning hands down by default.

Chinese schools are steeped in traditions that are so out-dated, one example which is manifestly ridiculous but still practised in this 21st century is the "hair ruling".

In most, if not all Chinese primary schools, the general rule is that girls must keep their hair no longer than the top of their shirt collar and they are not allowed to use hairclips or hairbands to keep their fringes away from their face. Which means, they must cut their front fringe short, above the eyebrows. So generally, the girls will have only 2 available choice of hairstyles, the bob (or "mushroom cut") or the boy's style ("7-up cut").

The boys in general all sport the same kind of crew-cut, what every kid knows to tell the barber to give him the "No. 1" (almost shorn bald) or "No. 2" (the 1 cm) cut.

I remembered very well when I was in Australia last year and one Australian shopkeeper mistook J for a boy because of her "7-up" hairstyle. When I corrected the lady, she expressed surprise and questioned me on why I gave my poor girl such an awfully boyish hairstyle. I explained that it was the school rule and before I could explain further, her quick response was, "What kind of a blardy rule is that? Hey Mike! See what they do to girls in Malaysian schools!"

*Sigh* I had to tell them that it only happens in Chinese-type schools and then I had to explain further why we have different types of schools in Malaysia. I couldn't explain why the Chinese school rules have such a "hairy" ruling though, except that it has always been that way. Maybe something to do with school discipline. I could sense that it was a pretty lame excuse to her.

The point I want to make here is this.

Is it still relevant in this day and age to keep to such a rigid hair rule in Chinese schools?

I really don't see the relevance at all. In fact, truth be told, I totally hated this rule. It's so "communist". And if the national schools didn't suck so much, I wouldn't enrol my kids in Chinese schools. That's the truth. And I suppose this is also true for the non-Chinese parents who put their kids in Chinese schools.

I hope to see the day when Dong Jiao Zong will realise that they too need to keep abreast of the times, lest they themselves become irrelevant.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Dr M's Sting (Ep. 9 - The Merrymen's Season)

Selangor started the ball-rolling with 2 consecutive days of full-page full-colour adverts in The Star welcoming and thanking our good PM for going about his duties. In return, Pak Lah declared "Selangor is the Best".

Not to be out-done, Perak is quick to "toe the line" as reported in The Star today.

"I will sink or swim with you – that is the pledge by Perak Umno chief Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi."

Hehehe ... I'm amused, very amused.

Let's all wait and see who's next in this mad dash to get on the moving train.

Anyone wants to take up this suggestion "I will go through smoke and fire to defend you!" ?


Friday, June 16, 2006

Dr M's Sting (Ep. 8 - I'm Waiting)

I'm waiting, he's waiting, the whole country is waiting with bated breath.

Enough sugar talk.

Where's the answer??


UPDATE: Saturday, 17 June 2006 (@ 11:00 pm)

The first round of answers were fired today in response to Dr M's query on the sale of Augusta MV for one Euro and the sacking of Mahaleel from Proton. Check out the difference between what is reported in the two major English dailies here:-

"Proton has defended its actions in the past, and the tone of its press statement and Azlan’s polite but business-like comments at the Press conference suggests that this will be the last time that questions on MV Agusta will be entertained." (The NST)

"Mohamed Azlan said Proton had made many attempts to meet with Dr Mahathir but the former prime minister was always unavailable. 'A meeting requires two consenting parties. He is very busy but he will give us a time when he is ready,' he said. He added that Proton would continue to seek his advice. 'It never crossed our minds to replace or remove him. He is our adviser and remains so,' he said." (The Star)


Let us all keep our fingers crossed for more straight answers to emerge in the coming days and weeks.

After all, each and every ordinary rakyat who had given Pak Lah the unprecedented huge mandate to lead us into a better and brighter future for all Malaysians deserve to be reassured that they had indeed made the right choice at the ballot box.

This is not about answering one man's questions.

This is all about regaining the trust and confidence of disillusioned and dejected Malaysians.


It's still the sweet deal, for now

So, FOMCA's suggestion has been noted but the gomen decides to adopt a wait and see.

Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk S. Veerasingam said, "If we can manage to get the industries to buy a portion of the open market sugar, then we need not increase the price. We can always sell at the same price to the public until 2008."

Meanwhile, there are others who's equally not amused by that silly suggestion.

IPOH: The Kinta Consumers Association took to task the president of the Federation of the Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca), N. Marimuthu, for suggesting a 30 sen increase in the price of sugar.

Association vice-president N. Prebakarran Nair said: "It is absurd for Fomca, which is supposed to protect the interests of the consumers, to make such a negative suggestion. Consumers already have to dig deep into their pockets with the fuel and electricity price increases and it would be unfair to raise the price of sugar as well."

He was commenting on the suggestion by Marimuthu that the price of sugar be raised by 30 sen to RM1.70 per kilo .

Sugar, a controlled item, is now sold at RM1.40 per kilo in loose form and RM1.45 in packets.


There must be some morbid fascination with the figure 30 sen when it comes to hiking prices of essential goods.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

The ethnic divide along religious line

As a non-bumiputra citizen, I can relate to this. Credit goes to Ktemoc for consistently highlighting pertinent issues in his blog.


Ways to make you change lifestyle

If the Ministry of Health can't persuade you to change your lifestyle to one that's more beneficial to personal and national interest, perhaps hitting you where it hurts would dismantle your stubborn insistence.

B(arang) N(aik) gomen's (possible) latest test of patience:- Sugar price increase.

Since the consumer (as represented by FOMCA) asked for it, okaylah! Gomen very nice. Gomen will support your request. Do you also want Gomen to raise the price of water and cooking oil while we are at it? After all, it's just a matter of when. Might as well get all the pain over and done with in one BIG dose of reality.

As a patriotic consumer who supports Pak Lah's noble agenda as articulated in Wong Sulong's commentary in The Star, I am increasingly finding it tough to stomach the dent in my pockets, while I constantly see some elected reps continue to waste public funds indecently. When are THEY going to change THEIR lifestyles??

Of course, decency is not a requirement of patriotism in Malaysian lingo, am I right?


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Happy Bloggers' Day to You!

I just found out today is International Webloggers Day! I dropped by the site, and the following statement caught my eye:-

... Behind every blog is a blogger, and the knowledge each of us has of any blogger is merely by the facet they expose on their blog.

It's an interesting thing, really, because one may choose to reveal as much or as little as one desires, but one's personality and character often leaks through unintentionally.

Maybe you can spot a person's color preference, a certain phrase they use often or a way of writing that catches your eye.


Happy InWeDay to all my fellow blogger friends, especially to those who have consistently connected with me through the comment boxes, both mine and theirs.

I truly enjoyed the virtual friendship. It's a different dimension of experience for me, one that is so far enjoyable.

But like Howsy once did in his blog, I guess each of us "envisage" a face behind the blogs we read especially those that choose to remain anonymous. No matter how we like to perceive the other person to be, I try to bear in mind that it is a very real person behind the blogger that I am connecting to. And this person has very real feelings too, sometimes sensitive, sometimes affected by the emotional turmoil he/she may be facing that particular day we come in contact.

And the scary thing is that no matter how we try to stay anonymous, somehow a blogger's personality do really leak through in the stuff that we choose to talk about. Kinda hard to avoid sometimes. If I blog long enough, I guess it wouldn't take Poirot to figure out who I am and where I live.

And hey - if you do figure that out, keep it to yourself okay?

Happy Bloggers' Day my friends!


Dr M's Sting (Ep. 7 - The Sideshow: Samy v Shahrir)

Tired of Dr M v Pak Lah?

Never mind. We have a sideshow courtesy of our Works Minister. From The SUN today:-

Samy slams PAC, Shahrir
B. Suresh Ram

KUALA LUMPUR: Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu today (June 13, 2006) chided the Public Accounts Committee and its chairman Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad for continuously questioning the scrapped half-bridge project and the KL-Putrajaya dedicated highway.

He said the committee can only review public spending on projects which have been completed. "Don't jump the gun - give us the time," he thundered in a press conference in his ministry.

Irked by the continuous sniping of the parliamentary body on the two projects, Samy Vellu said the PAC should instead allow the Public Works Department to complete its work. "There must be a limit to the PAC - you are not an operator of this ministry," he said.

... On whether the ministry would reconsider the estimated RM100 million compensation to Gerbang Perdana Sdn Bhd, the contractor for the cancelled bridge project, he said the ministry is still considering it.

"We are not blind to just give it away when they asked. We have eyes, we will consider. Do not think that we are stupid, you know, the PAC should know this," he said.

Yesterday (June 12, 2006), Shahrir told a press conference the PAC would suggest to the PWD claims department to negotiate with Gerbang Perdana to reduce the RM100 million compensation.

Samy Vellu said the ministry will study the compensation rate to Gerbang Perdana and will take into account the various factors, such as feedback from experts and engineers, before a decision is made.

"Ask them to come sit in the Works Ministry-lah - and run the ministry," he said, referring to the PAC members. "Ask the PAC chairman to come and sit in the ministry. Every project he approves, we will implement it," said Samy Vellu.

The ministry stressed that the PAC is not the approving body, and that they will only implement projects approved by the Finance Ministry. "We are the implementing agent for the Finance Ministry which issues all the tenders and projects," he stressed.

... He added he will seek an appointment with former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and will explain to him the decision and directive regarding his ministry's projects he had questioned. "I have sought an appointment next week," he said, adding that he will also submit a written explanation to the former prime minister.


Why, if Mr Vellu cannot take the heat, maybe it is better for someone else to take over.

Then, we may just find some answers as to how our government might end up with the possibility of paying RM1.12billion for scrapping the crooked bridge, when it would have cost them RM1.113billion to go ahead with it.

Not blind, not stupid. Obviously very clever, the last dinosaur standing from the Jurassic age.


More name-calling - this time he's a COBRA!


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Outrageous 50% rise in Seremban parking fees!

I can't believe it!

That parking ticket stuck on my windscreen today cost me RM0.60 per hour this morning. Up a blardy 50% from RM0.40 only 2 weeks ago!

The Makcik sitting in the pondok was annoyed when I queried her on the increase.

"Sudah naik sejak 1 haribulan Jun la!" she barked back at me, probably irritated at having to repeat the same line thousands of time since the increase.

Eh, MB Mohamad Hasan of Negri Sembilan. This is Seremban la. How come parking our car in this sleepy town cost more than in Selangor Negeri Maju?

Is this another effort to raise some funds to join in the BODEKFEST? Or is this another manifestation of the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi administration? B(arang) N(aik) semua OK!

I'm truly p***ed off.


Dr M's Sting (Ep. 6 - Govt will answer)

Excerpt from the frontpage of NST today:-

"PUTRAJAYA: The Abdullah administration will move soon to kill off allegations by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that it had made wrong decisions in several areas."


Like many others who are following the latest saga, I eagerly await the next move by Pak Lah. Will it be the right dose of antidote to counter the venomous sting executed by Dr M?

I just hope it is not another dirt-fest from Pak Lah's ringside. Certainly, it would be deadly for all of us to be caught in the fatal collision between the two gravy trains running at full speed.


Surprise, surprise!

Or is it no surprise at all?

"One-eye closed" MP wants to have his say too:-

Datuk Mohd Said Yusof (Jasin) said: "At no point did he (Abdullah) lose his cool and or start accusing anyone. He said the Government must show Malaysians that we are transparent."

Good show of loyalty there. And here's some more support for the beleaguered PM:-

Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed hoped that once the Government has given its side of the story, Dr Mahathir would be satisfied and stop lambasting the Prime Minister and his administration.

“I feel good, Datuk Shahrir felt good, and I think even the PM felt good about the meeting,” said Ketereh MP Datuk Alwi Che Ahmad.

Bera MP Datuk Ismail Sabri said the meeting was meant to send out the signal that Umno MPs were unanimously behind the Prime Minister. “We want to show our solidarity on this issue. Whatever the outcome, we are with him.”

Nur Jazlan found Abdullah focused and calm, despite the pressure on him. “But we don’t want this issue prolonged,” he said.

(The Star, 13 June 2006)

At least the above show of support were carried by the paper FOC.

On the other hand, I am certainly not glad to see the full-page bodek ad put up by "The Government and People of the State of Selangor Darul Ehsan" at page N20 of The Star today.

Read in full: "SALUTATIONS. We are deeply honoured to welcome Y.A.B. Dato' Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi Prime Minister of Malaysia on your working visit to The State of Selangor Darul Ehsan on 13 June 2006 With utmost sincerity from The Government And People Of The State Of Selangor Darul Ehsan."

My grouse: Does the State Government need to waste public funds paying for a full page full colour advertisement to trumpet our PM who is merely carrying out his duties, as in, isn't it just one of those working days when it is Selangor's turn for site inspection?

Syiok sendiri? Hey - bukan free tau? Siapa yang tanggung kos bodek tu??


Fascinating, isn't it?

So many are lining up to get on the right train.


UPDATE: 14 June 2006, Wednesday @ 2:25pm

Another full page full colour ad on page N13 The Star today:-

Read in full:-

Our deepest gratitude and sincerest appreciation to
Y.A.B. Dato' Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi
Prime Minister of Malaysia
on your working visit
The State of Selangor Darul Ehsan
13 June 2006
With utmost sincerity from
The Government And People Of The State Of Selangor Darul Ehsan


This "syiok sendiri" syndrome is going into over-drive. Maybe it does PAY to bodek the BOSS:- (excerpt from The Star headline "Support Me and I'll Support You, says Abdullah")

Abdullah praised Selangor for its development projects which emphasised on agriculture. He said Selangor was “the best” among the states in Malaysia. Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo, in his welcome speech, said Selangor would continue to support Abdullah.


See? What are the other MBs waiting for??


Monday, June 12, 2006

What is Love?

For those who are in love, who are being loved, who would love to love, who have loved and lost, who are discovering a new love and who have (sadly) given up on love.

What is your definition of LOVE?


Perhaps love is like a resting place,
a shelter from the storm
It exists to give you comfort,
it is there to keep you warm
And in those times of trouble when you are most alone
The memory of love will bring you home

Perhaps love is like a window,
perhaps an open door
It invites you to come closer,
it wants to show you more
And even if you lose yourself and don't know what to do
The memory of love will see you through

Love to some is like a cloud, to some as strong as steel
For some a way of living, for some a way to feel
And some say love is holding on and some say letting go
And some say love is everything, and some say they don't know

Perhaps love is like the ocean,
full of conflict, full of pain
Like a fire when it's cold outside,
or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever, and all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you

And some say love is holding on and some say letting go
And some say love is everything, and some say they don't know

Perhaps love is like the mountains,
full of conflict, full of change
Like a fire when it's cold outside,
or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever,
and all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you.

(From John Denver's 1982 Album: Seasons of the Heart - Perhaps Love)



Saturday, June 10, 2006

Desiderata Max Ehrmann

"If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for there will always be greater or lesser persons than yourself."

- Desiderata Max Ehrmann


Dr M's Sting (Ep. 5 - Enough is Enough!)

Quote from Tun Musa Hitam (The Star, 10 June 2006):-

Enough is enough. Don't say you don't want to interfere and the next moment keep making statements to the contrary.

Habit of choosing the wrong people. Had it ever occurred to him that he had been wrong, rather the(n) people wrong? The people cannot be wrong. The boss was wrong.

Petronas money is not government money. Petronas money is the people's money and the government should know it must be used. The people's money should not be abused.

In this matter, surely Dr Mahathir will say Putrajaya is a very good project. OK, he was the prime minister, he built it. If the current prime minister says no, then it should not be. He can't start condemning Abdullah for that.


Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said Dr Mahathir had gone overboard by going on a “personal attack” against his successor, saying that the comments were “unwarranted, uncalled for and unfair”.

He said Dr Mahathir’s criticism and views could not be accepted as merely that of any ordinary citizen because whatever he said had an impact on the Government and party, and affected public perception.

“We cannot accept a personal attack on the leadership which we feel is wrong. The choice of words (used by Tun) was just too much. It is disappointing to us,” he said yesterday after chairing a Youth exco meeting.

Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, an exco member and the son of the former prime minister and Khairy Jamaluddin, the son-in-law of the present Prime Minister both attended the meeting and were also present at the press conference.


Umno Youth made the stand that Dr Mahathir's comments were “personal, unwarranted, uncalled for and unfair”.

Mukhiz said he stood by the movement’s decision. “We cannot stop him (Dr Mahathir) from asking questions,” he said, adding that the exco agreed that it had no right to stop Dr Mahathir from speaking out.


It must have been a BAD DAY for the old man's son.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Dr M's Sting (Ep. 4 - I'm Demonised!)

Latest update from The SUN Online today.

Dr. M: No answers, demonising me

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is disappointed that many questions and concerns raised by him recently were never answered. Instead, many were quick to critcise him.

"What is very disappointed (sic) is that, instead of explaining about the subjects that I raised and the complaints made ... all is said is whether am I right in making the criticisms or not and whether I am following the tradition of Umno or not." Mahathir said.

"The questions (I asked) were never answered. Maybe they did not have the answers and that is why they tried to demonise me."

The former premier spoke to reporters after presenting a keynote address at a "Islam, Humanity and World Peace" conference held in conjuction with the International Islamic Fair in Putra World Trade Centre here today (June 9, 2006).

"People who never followed the tradition are talking about me know ... I am not a hellion person ... I am a very crude person. Even Tunku's time I created problems."

The way Cabinet ministers are supporting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in everything that he says, "There cannot be much debate in the cabinet."

"Two days before, he (the Prime Minister) said he will build the bridge and two days later, he said again that he will not build the bridge ... and after that everybody said we will not build the bridge."

Mahathir said he wants his questions like APs, Proton, Agusta, the bridge and why a CEO like Tengku Mahaleel who was making money for Proton was sacked and instead someone else was brought in and (Proton) lost RM500million.

"Instead people are saying Dr Mahathir as an ex-PM got no right to talk ... he should just go home and sleep and not disturb anyone ... for your information I sleep well."

"The same people are saying this, the Cabinet members. I am sure after what I am saying today ... there will be major reaction stories done, I know how the newspapers work."

"Before this (they) were my cabinet ministers ... they agreed with me. As I had said, I always choose the wrong person."

On suggestions by many that he should meet Abdullah to sort out the issues, Mahathir said he met him in Japan and Abdullah told him a few things and he (Mahathir) listened and there was nothing else.

On Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah agreeing with him that the economy was not moving and that someone was influencing the Prime Minister, Mahathir said: "I do not want to bring anyone into the picture. I am only interested in finding the answers (to my questions)."

"I have no problems with Pak Lah or the government. I can't accept certain things that are being done. I want to know why. Why can't we build the bridge when we have already started it."

Mahathir said Tengku Razaleigh and Tan Sri Musa Hitam have got no right to make comments about unity, rift and not following the party tradition.

"Tengku (Razaleigh) created a rift and left Umno and formed Semangat 46. Musa broke many party tradition ... so what right have they got to speak about me now ... so both of them are not competent enough to talk about unity and not following party tradition."

Asked whom he thought was the one with an agenda and influencing the Prime Minister, Mahathir said many people are talking and that he is not brave enough to talk about it, "then they say Dr. Mahathir said it."

Asked for his opinion on the PM's son-in-law Khairy (Jamaludin), Mahathir said:

"He is the son-in-law ... are you trying to fish from me and sell more papers? I understand Khairy is the son-in-law."

"I will continue to speak as the Prime Minister himself had said that is my right, even though others think otherwise. If other people want to answer the questions it's alright ... if he (Abdullah) decides to keep quiet, it is alright."


It may be alright for him, but where does all this leads to?

A thought crossed my mind this morning. It happened many years ago, and I remembered it very clearly because it was the talk of the neighbourhood for days.

It happened right after our first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman aka Bapa Malaysia passed away. Everyone in town expected then prime Minister Dr. M to give the revered statesman a state funeral and declare the day a public holiday as a mark of respect.

When none of that happened, almost everyone in my neighbourhood were disgusted at the mean way in which Dr. M treated the founding father of Malaysia. The speculative gossips went on for days after the non-event. It made a huge impression on my mind because my dad had quite a few spirited discussions with his friends in our house over mugs of beer.

I wonder if he remembered any of it?


Dr M's Sting (Ep. 3 - The Charlie Brown syndrome)

Quote from The SUN Editorial (9 June 2006):-

"... While we may not be privy to what transpired between the two men at the time of the handover, the only promises Abdullah has to keep are the promises he made to the people when he sought their mandate in the 2004 general elections. He pledged to be a PM for ALL Malaysians although he himself is a Malay and a Muslim, and will promote an open and tolerant society. He promised that his administration would work hard to wipe out corruption and improve the public delivery system. He said he would pay attention to the people's well-being and human resource development, rather than erect any more towering monuments.

Mahathir may have picked Abdullah as his successor but in winning the 2004 elections, the PM's mandate came from the people and not from a power broker no matter how powerful. We are after all a parliamentary democracy and have put our feudalistic past behind us.

Truth is Abdullah has fallen short in delivering some of the promises he made to the people in 2004. The grumblings are there among the rakyat. It is those grumblings that Pak Lah should focus on addressing rather than the outbursts of one angry man, even if that man is Mahathir."


I won't pretend to be knowledgable about what is going on in Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's administration.

I am only concerned with the fact that it is indeed THE TRUTH that our current Prime Minister has failed to cash in on his massive popularity following his outstanding performance in the 2004 General Election.

Two and a half years down the road, his reputation has suffered a steep nosedive partly of his own doing and not least contributed by the scathing and unrelenting criticisms by his former Boss.

He has consistently failed to react to sentiments on the ground on various issues which by now, has done a lot of damage to the goodwill that surrounded him in the past. To say the voters have been disappointed with Abdullah again and again is an understatement.

Yes, people are questioning his sincerity, they are questioning his willpower and ability to do the right thing for this country and its multi-racial and multi-religious citizens and they are beginning to have serious doubts about his ability to improve the rot that has continued to grow and undermine the harmony between the Muslims and non-Muslims in this country.

No doubt, he is the epitome of grace and dignity in the face of Dr M's very public attack. In fact, Tun Musa Hitam praised Abdullah by saying, " It is what I call elegant silence. It is the mark of a very, very good leader."

We only have nice words to describe Abdullah's demeanour and personality. After all, he was known as Mr Nice Guy before he assumed the top post.

But do Charlie Brown types make good prime ministers? Are Charlie Browns capable of being very, very good leaders?


Dr M's Sting (Ep. 2 - The Petronas Revelation)

Quote from Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, ex-Prime Minister of Malaysia:-

"My contention is the government has lots of money ... Petronas made a profit of RM50 billion last year and this year RM80 billion. Petronas has a lot of money."

The biggest revelation to me from this latest outburst by Dr M is that Petronas make HUGE profits EACH YEAR.

What happened to ALL that BILLIONS year in year out?


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Mahathir's Sting (Ep. 1)

Tun Dr. M's regrets
R. Manirajan

PUTRAJAYA: In his most direct attack on his successor to date, former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad today (June 7, 2006) said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had reneged on a promise to continue with his policies.

Expressing some regrets over picking Abdullah as his successor, Mahathir lamented: "I chose him and expected a degree of gratefulness (sic). But I was told I had been involved in mega projects and had finished the (government's) money."

Conceding he had made mistakes in supporting people who later stabbed him in the back, he said: "I have a habit of choosing the wrong people".

Mahathir had four deputies during his 22 years in power. The first Tun Musa Hitam quit after falling out with him in 1986 while the second, the late Tun Ghafar Baba, was ousted by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who latter clashed with Mahathir and was sacked and jailed.

Mahathir said he had chosen Abdullah over Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be his successor despite the fact that the latter had the higher votes as Umno vice-president to fill the vacuum left by the sacking of Anwar. Mahathir said this at a press conference called to talk about a global peace forum that the Perdana Leadership Foundation is organising. After the briefing, he took questions from journalists including the foreign media.

"The (present) government not only did not do what was promised (to me) but instead reversed many of the decisions made when the leader (Abdullah) was part of the (previous) government," he said. "I tolerated this as much as possible, including the charge that I finished all of the government's money ... that the government was bankrupt and couldn't have any more projects," Mahathir said.

"I kept quiet but when something that is done that is really harmful, I think I would be failing my duty as an ordinary citizen and an ex-prime minister if I don't direct attention to these matters."

Mahathir said he had suffered "bruises" as a result of being accused of finishing the government's money. But he stressed that despite his unhappiness, he was not engineering the ouster of Abdullah saying that it was "for Umno members to decide".

Following are excerpts from the press conference:

Q: Can you describe your relationship with the present government? It looks very hostile?

A: Well when I decided to step down, I gave an undertaking that I will not involve myself in politics, that I would not interfere with the government. On the other hand of course there were certain things promised that would be done by the (present) government, but the government not only did not do what was promised but in fact reversed many of the decisions made while the leader of the (present) government was (also) in the (previous) government.

There were no objections (then) and we agreed fully with all the proposals. And I had hoped that they would be carried out. I understand of course that new leaders want to have an impact and make their mark during their period in power. The times may change. But what was undertaken before would have to be carried out, (and) new things can be introduced. So the decision not to keep to promises was not mine.

I tolerated this for as much as possible including the charge that I finished all of the government's money, that the government was bankrupt and couldn't have any more projects. I kept quiet but when something that is done that is really harmful, I think I would be failing my duty as an ordinary citizen and an ex-PM if I don't direct attention to this matters.

As said, I was not the one who first broke the promise, the undertaking given. Of course I gave my undertaking publicly, while the leader of the new government did not but the fact is that promises had been made on both sides.

Q: Do you regret quitting?

A: No, one cannot tell exactly what a person would do after he is out of your control. I thought I made a good choice. I wouldn't know if I had picked somebody else, these things would not happen. If I chose someone else, it might very well also happen.

Q: What was your biggest blunder?

A: I have made many blunders in my career. I have helped many people up only for them to stab me in the back. So it is a common trait for me. I'm in the habit of choosing the wrong people. But the present government can do a good job if they want to. The means are there but if they come under the influence of people who have other agenda, then I can't help.

Q: Who are you referring to?

A: It is up to the press to know, you know more than I do.

Q: Do you think Pak Lah has stabbed you in the back?

A: Minor bruises like saying I finished all their money when I know very well when the country has never been as rich as it is now.

Having chosen him as my successor, in fact he was not the first choice, he was second, as he didn't have the highest votes. Najib had. I chose him and I expect a degree of gratefulness. But I was told that I had involved in mega projects and finished the money.

Q: Are you engineering the early departure of the PM?

A: No, I'm not capable of that. When he does the right thing, I have nothing to say (and will) support him but if he does the wrong thing and undermines national interest then I will have my say.

Q: Are you trying to have him replaced?

A: I can't have him removed, it is for his own party to remove him, for Umno to remove him. I am not helping or going around campaigning and telling people to remove this man. But I'm supportive of Umno, my party.

Q: Are you confident of his management?

A: If he keeps on doing the wrong things I cannot be confident so I'll keep watching. But it must be something substantial before I pass my comments. Simple things like which people are getting contracts I will not say anything.

Q: Putrajaya is not developing after you retired?

A: The government claims it has no money to continue. That is why they stopped so many projects in Putrajaya. They have stopped the mosque, the monorail has been shelved. My contention is the government has lots of money and Putrajaya is built largely with Petronas funds. Petronas made a profit of RM50 billion last year and this year RM80 billion. Petronas has a lot of money. Petronas can build if you want them to.

Updated: 08:32pm Wed, 07 Jun 2006 (The SUN Online)

Other Links:
Biznews (Malaysia's Mahathir: Successor Betrayed Trust - Update 1)
Asia Times Online (A Bridge Too Far For Malaysia's Premier)

Read Also:
An Open Letter To The PM (Jacqueline Ann Surin, The SUN Columnist)


Did the shoe just dropped?


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Did you take a wrong turn?

The road to hell,
they assure me,
With good intentions is paved;
But my deeds might brand me depraved.

It's the warped grain in our nature,
And St. Paul has written it true:
"The good that I would
I do not;
But the evil I would not
I do."

I've met a few men
who are monsters
When I came to know them inside;
Yet their bearing and dealings external
Are crusted with cruelty, pride,
Scorn, selfishness, envy, indifference,
Greed -
why the long list pursue?

The good that they would
they do not;
But the evil they would not
they do.

Intentions may still leave us beast-like;
With unchangeable purpose
we're men.

We must drive the nail home -
and then clinch it
Or storms shake it loose again.

In things of great import,
in trifles,
We our recreant souls
must subdue.
Till the evil we would not
we do not
And the good that we would
we do.

- St. Clair Adams


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Redang sunrise

Sunrise in Pulau Redang. Heavenly.


Friday, June 02, 2006

First world public toilets in Malaysia

If you have ever travelled the length and breathe of Malaysia via its highways and trunk roads, you will probably agree with me that the one truly first-world standard public toilets in this country are to be found in the Tapah R&R.

Whether you make a stop at the Tapah North or the Tapah South R&R along the North-South Highway, you can assuredly step into the public loos with confidence that your appetite will not be ruined by the experience.

It is really not too difficult to understand why.

Despite the huge number of visitors daily, the maintenance staff have done an admirable job in keeping the place clean and tidy all the time. One or two workers are always around to ensure that no mess is left unattended and whatever rubbish that is carelessly strewn on the floor is immediately scooped up and deposited into the bin.

Clearly, the management team and its hardworking staff members have found the right formula on how to run a first class public facility. I wonder - did any one of them had to travel overseas to learn the trick?

Maybe they could teach the Selayang councilmen or for that matter any other local councils who have trouble keeping public toilets clean a thing or two. And the money saved from sending councilmen overseas can be better used to reward them instead. At least, they wouldn't waste precious time inspecting public toilets while on holiday, right?


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Maha Dubya - let's talk war not peace

I wonder if someone has taken leave of his senses.

When world peace is something all of us should promote for the sake of humanity and for the sake of our children and the future generations to come, we have in our own backyard, a prominent ex-leader urging Muslims to amass their own cache of WMD citing "religious obligation" to strengthen defence capabilities.

From The Star, 1 June 2006 (N18):-

Build own arms, Muslims urged

ALOR STAR: It is high time Muslims built their own brand of weaponry for mass protection, said former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

They should not depend on weapons created by others, as the enemy could easily penetrate their defence system if it knew the weaknesses in the “imported” systems, he said.

“To enhance our own defence capabilities, we must build our own brand of sophisticated weapons,” he added. Weapons the Muslims could learn to make included pistols, rockets, fighter aircraft and cannons, Dr Mahathir said.

“Not that we (Muslims) want to attack others, but we need to protect our ummah (masses),” he said, adding that it was a religious obligation to strengthen defence capabilities.

Dr Mahathir said this when closing a learning camp for UPSR pupils, Kem Kedah Gemilang 2006, at the Mara Junior Science College in Pendang, near here, yesterday. A total of 404 pupils from 33 schools in the Pendang district, as well as their parents, teachers and villagers, attended the event.

Dr Mahathir said Muslims worldwide were being oppressed because they were unable to defend themselves. “Muslims are weak because we have not made the necessary preparation to defend and protect ourselves and the masses. We could not do it because we have not mastered the knowledge of science,” he said.

In this regard, he said, the Government was emphasising the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English. Recalling that he was “not so clever” in his young days, Dr Mahathir said he was among the lower-ranked students when he went to medical school. “But I pulled through because I studied repeatedly until I could visualise the pages in the textbooks,” he said, adding that he had to work harder than most others. “Students should apply this technique of studying repeatedly to excel in their studies.” He added that the boys should buck up because the girls now made up 60% of the university student population.


To make such a call in a speech targetted at 12 year olds and their family members, teachers and villagers (most if not all of them Muslims) in a learning camp at a Junior Science College - can we call that highly inappropriate, even irresponsible and irrational and unwarranted?

Should we not preach peace to our young minds? That there are better & non-confrontational ways to solve our differences?

What is the purpose of this speech?

What good will it do to the Muslim society at large when right at this very moment, we are facing some of the most fearsome terrorist movements being waged by underground fanatics and deviants of this peaceful religion?

Is strength to be equated with the ability to destroy in a violent way?

Is superiority to be equated with the ability to make others cow in submission and fear at your ability to annihilate with just a push of a button?

I'm just too shocked and awed by this piece of news.


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